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CBC is Not Culture

April 28th, 2009
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Whenever talk comes around to what to do with the CBC, the discussion always comes in as a culture decision. We want to save Canadian culture, we need to protect Canadian culture. However, the CBC is not in the culture business, they are in the entertainment business, and now that CBC executive vice-president in charge of English services, Richard Stursberg, has admitted as much, can we please do without the pretence?

Some want it to go advertising-free (which would reduce CBC’s revenues by roughly 40 per cent), stop pouring money into ratings-driven U.S. imports and gimmicky reality shows, and concentrate on high-quality Canadian drama, children’s shows, documentaries, news and current affairs.

Stursberg dismisses this option out of hand. The business of television is entertainment, he says. “It’s not a university lecture. It’s not a little literary magazine.”

Now that we have established new, more appropriate terms for debate, I’ll start: the Government of Canada should not be in the entertainment business. If it chooses to provide tax benefits to those who create entertainment, then someone who makes his living in the auto industry such as myself may have to concede the point. But directly financing entertainment such as Battle of the Blades and Super Speller? This is clearly not in the governments mandate.

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